Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Hop across for a year

Our occasional forays into the Ionian are about to be full time for a year. To catch up on what's happening, hop across to The World from My Greek Window.

See you there!

Maddie x

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Some summer reading

We're swinging around in Lakka, it's Mr Grigg's birthday and we've just one more day to go.

We'll head up for Kaloura for cuttlefish in red sauce and fresh calamari.

It's a hard life.

And I've read seven books in as many days. A real mixed bag:

The Suspicions of Mr Whicher by Kate Summerscale
Under the Skin by Michael Faber
Fifty Shades of Sh*te (sorry, Grey) by E L James
The Ionian Islands and Epirus, A Cultural History by Jim Potts (aka Corfu Bluesman)
Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
To Be Sung Underwater by Tom McNeil
Olympic Flames by my friend Emma Lee-Potter

And, as always, dipping in and out of Rod Heikell's pilot book for the Ionian, which guides you not only on where to drop your anchor but gives you a whole host of cultural and historical facts and tales too.

That's about it.

Until next time, that's about it.

Love Maddie x

Saturday, 30 June 2012

Mr Grigg pulls a rabbit out of a bread basket

Colourfully-clad tourists climb aboard The Christina, a tripper boat next to us in Gaios, Paxos.

We are safely moored, rather conveniently outside the ice cream shop, after two attempts. On the second, one of The Christina's crew, from the safety of a white plastic chair on the deck, looks down on us and shouts: 'Malakas.'

It is not a nice word and, translated, rhymes with 'anchor'.

Indignant, I turn and shout: 'Never mind malakas, why don't you stop laughing and come down and give us a hand with the ropes?'

Much to my surprise, he does just that and grins a toothless smile as we thank him for helping us in.

Two ice creams and a shower later and Corfu Bluesman and his good lady wife come aboard for a sundowner before we venture out for a meal.

We are moored in front of the most wonderful building, which has fallen into increasing decay since we've been coming here.

We head for a restaurant and have probably the most disappointing meal of this trip.

The entertainment, however, is stunning.

In the morning, we are woken by a gaggle of Gaios geese.

That's about it.

Love Maddie x

Monday, 25 June 2012

Greece needs your vote

And the sands at Sidari are soft and so deliciously hot.

It makes my toes tingle.

The water is warm and the shallows go on forever. Looking around the beach, it is very quiet. It should be busier this time of year and we usually avoid this seaside resort, with its karaoke bars and kiss-me-slowly-slowly hats.

But this is Corfu, Greece, and the British media has been having a month of field days, encouraging people to stay away.

Don't believe everything you read.

A notable exception is this story on the front page of the Daily Telegraph travel section.

The Greek islands need us. They need you. There is sunshine, beauty, culture, food and, most of all, the hospitality of the Greek people.

So we visit our friends in the north, at our favourite restaurant, The Three Brothers at Astrakeri, where we feast on octopus in red sauce, hake with garlic mash and fresh vegetables from the garden. We watch an agonising football match and cheer and cry with the locals. It is too much to hope for, a win against Germany in the Euro 2012 tournament. It is such a politically symbolic match. The Germans win 4-2 and Angela Merkel applauds.

You could hear a souvlaki skewer drop.

And then, the next day, we are on our way, after being serenaded by our friend, Jiannis, who has a piano in the corner of his office.

'I would really like a small grand piano,' he says, as he plays One Man's Dream by his hero, Yanni, another self-taught pianist.

And we, the impossible romantics that we are, vow to bring him one, the next time we drive down to Greece. Which could be sooner than we think.

So we pick up te boat and head for the mainland for an appointment with England against Spain.

That's about it.

Love Maddie x

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Bon voyage

So we say goodbye to the Putters, the Greek mainland and Keffalonia and Ithaca and Meganisi and hot, hot weather.

 And a total of eight books:
  • Eat Pray Love
  • Diary of a Nobody
  • One Day
  • Keith Floyd's autobiography, Stirred but not Shaken
  • The Moonstone
  • That Summer in Ischia
  • The Book of Tomorrow
  • The Lost World
Guess who had a Kindle for her birthday.

That's about it.

Love Maddie x

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Sweet dreams are made of this

The boat has been a part of our lives for a few years now. Last night, it even featured in my dreams.

Mr Grigg and I were sitting having a drink at De Vinchies, a now defunct club in My Kind of Town, when various hen and stag parties walked by, in high heels and Oompa Loompa outfits. Mr Grigg then suddenly declared he was going to bring the boat through.

Cut to a canal-style lock, with the tall masts of Nestor just fitting in beneath the nightclub roof, and then the beer-sodden, fag-ridden nightclub floor between the boat and the sea beyond.

I told him it was impossible but he insisted he could do it. The brightly-dressed clientele lent a hand to lift the boat's bow across the floor, much to the annoyance of the bar staff who were concerned at losing trade. I then presented a barmaid called Ann with a raffle prize before going back to lead the yo-heave-ho. It was no good, they couldn't lift it.

And then I woke up.

I am used to these vivid dreams in the Ionian. Probably too much sun, wine and all that calamari.

Today, we take the Putters back, along with Mr Grigg's brother who is so handy with a windlass.

Mr Putter has become do-er rather than dour as he takes the helm to avoid the seasickness he feels by just looking on. The fragrant Mrs Putter has brought a touch of Lush Places glamour to the boat, armed with nappy bags and wet wipes for the loo and the brilliant tip of lighting a match instead of cloying air freshener after using the lavatory. Every bathroom should have a box.

We will miss their company. My lasting memory is of Mr Putter rowing the dinghy as Mr Grigg and his brother snorkel to collect what Mr Grigg insists are a type of scallop from the seabed. Mrs Putter, discussing their find with an Italian gentleman who happens to be treading water nearby (attracted, no doubt, by siren Mrs Putter's fragrance), confirms they are endangered species which taste terrible.

The large bivalves are dispatched back into the water, with Mr Grigg annoyed at missing out on fresh lunch.

I took a photo of him with one of them just before the crew made the decision that the Noble Pen Shell (for this is what Wikipedia later tells me they are) should be returned to the seabed.

If figured it would have been useful to show the hospital when I took Mr Grigg to have his stompach pumped out.

'Remember the puffball,' I tell him.

His gills go green at the memory and the long wait in the A&E department.

That's about it.

Love Maddie x

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Views of the southern Ionian

And now the Putters have arrived.

Fragrant Mrs Putter wafts in from Preveza, accompanied by the dour Mr Putt-Putter, who immediately starts talking about the parish plan and how quiet the square is since the shop shut.

I imagine our hanging baskets wilting in the sun, my car's handbrake rusting while we are away and no-one, just no-one, stopping to talk any more. It's sad state of affairs.

Meanwhile, we are in Lefkas Town, a strange jumble of colourful buildings which look like they should be in a frontier town in south America rather than somewhere in the south Ionian.

During the day, the place is eerily quiet.

At night, the place is buzzing.

Meanwhile, up in Sivota, this is the world from my window.

 From the hotel here.

And on the way to Preveza, to pick up Mr Grigg's Brother Number Two and the Putters, we stop off for a bit of sightseeting. We find the remains of the ancient city of Nikopolis, created by the Emperor Augustus after (as Julius Caesar's nephew, Octavius) defeating Mark Antony at the Battle of Aktion in 31 BCE.

That's about it.

Love Maddie x